One jolt after another—commoditization of manufactured products, the onset of brand purpose, the varied breakage of norms by the pandemic—has left companies scrambling for customer retention strategies to help relationships that may have survived Covid or been created by it.
“The only thing is to provide an exceptional experience that will make customers choose you over the competition,” said Lior Arussy, author of Next Is Now a consultant on customer strategy to many leading companies. At our annual Leadership Conference last fall, he laid out a playbook one that’s just as essential for B2B manufacturers as it is for those who serve consumers directly.
Here are six ways to thrive in this world, Arussy said:
- Inspire employees. “We are the sum total of our employees’ choices to create the best [customer] experience or just an OK customer experience,” Arussy “Companies in the top 25 percent of employee engagement are three times more likely to be tops in customer experience.”
- Don’t settle for parity. “Reliability is no longer the definition of [customer] satisfaction,” Arussy said. “Today’s new litmus test is whether you’re creating a 10-second memory or a 10-year memory. Memories are the currency of loyalty, the deposits we make in relationships.”
- Disclose value. “If you’re giving freebies to [B2B] customers, first invoice for them and then cancel it—so they can see a price,” he said. “They need to see value visualization. Freebies aren’t freebies. Make sure customers understand and appreciate that.”
- Move with the market. “Differentiation is a moving target,” Arussy said, citing examples of how early mobile-phone makers Motorola and Blackberry didn’t shift strategies with a moving target market. “Products and innovations do not last, and the problem is we become successful and trust our success as opposed to keeping our eyes open and focusing on the customer instead of the product.”
- Imagine just one customer. “If you had one customer only, what would you do differently?” Arussy asked. Imagine “you’ve got the contract, you know you have a revenue stream and margins, so what would you do differently if you eliminate the pressure of sales and marketing? If you conduct this exercise, you’ll spend more time delighting that customer because you’ve got time to think about creating value.”
And finally, focus on inspiration. Companies boost expenditures on customer acquisition “when you’re desperate. When you’re an inspiration, you don’t need to spend that much. Customers stand in line for you.”